Will the New York Giants draft defensive end Margus Hunt with one of their early-round picks?
The New York Giants mock draft has become more intriguing in recent days because the actual draft for the team in late April is suddenly taking on added significance.
This is because it is obvious through the first few days of free agency that Big Blue will not be able to solve many of their issues on defense and the offensive line on the open market.
The reason being is that they simply don’t have enough cap space to secure impact players—and that was before they signed the likes of Josh Brown, Ryan Mundy and Keith Rivers.
Therefore, New York will need to pull off a near perfect draft with players, even in the latter rounds, capable of starting for the Giants at some point in the near future.
With less then six weeks remaining until Round One kicks off Thursday April 25, here is a look at who they should take in all seven rounds.
All combine results are courtesy of NFL.com
The Giants may have resigned Keith Rivers on Thursday but retaining the often-injured former first round pick does not adequately address their issues at linebacker.
The team lacks speed and playmakers at the second level of their defense, which is precisely why Ogletree is a great selection in the middle of the first round.
The former Bulldog has the athleticism to be a force both in run and pass defense, as witnessed by the 98 tackles, four pass defenses, three sacks and one INT he produced in only nine games his senior season.
The reason he only played nine games though goes right to the issue of why Ogletree will likely be available at the 19th pick.
He missed the first four games of the 2012 season because he failed a drug test. He had other off-the-field issues in college, most recently with a DUI in early February.
These character issues, however, don’t figure to be a major deterrent to the Giants selecting Ogletree, based on feedback from GM Jerry Reese on potentially drafting Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o when he spoke at the NFL Scouting Combine to the NY Daily News’ Ebenezer Samuel:
“We’re more interested in what kind of football player he is than anything else,” said Reese, who drafted a character risk in corner Jayron Hosley a year ago. “We’ll investigate it and we’ll see how it goes.” The Giants got few impact plays from their linebacking corps, and incumbent middle linebacker Chase Blackburn is a free agent. Reese said the team “just need(s) good players” at linebacker, and the squad plans to “bring him in and we’ll let him explain that situation for us.”
If Reese is willing to consider Te’o, there no reason to think he also wouldn’t give Ogletree the benefit of the doubt, especially since the latter’s talent is better than the former Notre Dame standout.
The heart of the Giants defense in 2013 will continue to be their pass rush.
They are slowly getting weaker in this area, however, with Osi Umenyiora’s time with the team coming to an end and Justin Tuck clearly past his prime.
Addressing the pass rush with this pick would be a wise choice for Big Blue and Hunt fits what they look for in a quarterback hungry defensive end.
Like Jason Pierre-Paul, Hunt is raw coming out of college but he has a ton of untapped potential.
He has only been playing organized football since 2009, after a stellar career in track and field, and at times it shows on the gridiron. He struggles with fundamentals, such as proper pad level and having a sixth sense for getting his hands in passing windows.
The guy, however, is an athletic freak. He stands at 6’8”, possesses a tremendous first step and a powerful build that still has room to grow. This athleticism was on display at the combine where he ran the 40 in 4.6 seconds and muscled out 38 reps in the bench press.
On the field, Hunt showed what he is capable of during his senior season with eight sacks.
Outside of his lack of experience, another negative with the former Mustang is that he will be 26 years old at the start of the 2013 season. This is old for a rookie and it may deter teams from picking him since they will think his potential to improve is limited due to his age.
The Giants would be wise not to make this mistake as Hunt figures to apply consistent pressure on the quarterback at the next level.
It does not appear that the Giants will address their right tackle situation through free agency, especially since David Diehl appears to be with the team for one more season.
This means that selecting a starting-caliber right tackle in the draft is imperative. Aboushi, despite a poor combine, appears to be just the player that can fill this need.
The Virginia product placed near the bottom of each of the six workouts he participated in at Lucas Oil Stadium. This showing has dropped him into the third round, though it should not deter Big Blue from selecting him with the 81st pick.
Aboushi played left tackle in college but will slide over to right tackle in the NFL due to his athleticism not being at the level necessary to protect a quarterback’s blind side. Still, he is an aggressive, physical player, who projects to be a good run blocker that can also hold his own pass blocking.
He does have a tendency to lack concentration, leading him to get lazy with his footwork and balance. This is when he is susceptible to being outrun and overpowered by fast, strong defensive ends. Also, he can be overly physical at times, resulting in unnecessary penalties after the whistle.
Lucky for Big Blue, they have offensive line coach Pat Flaherty on the payroll. He is one of the best in the business and should help Aboushi work out these issues.
A good comparison of a right tackle that has found success in the NFL despite a poor combine is Cleveland’s Mitchell Schwartz. The 2012 second round pick had an outstanding rookie year, as witnessed by his 16.1 Pro Football Focus rating.
There is no reason to think that Aboushi won’t achieve similar success at the next level, though it may not come as quickly as it did for Schwartz.
Addressing the offensive line in back-to-back picks makes sense given the uncertain future of right guard Chris Snee. He is arguably the Giants best offensive lineman, along with Will Beatty, and figures to be a solid player in 2013. The nine-year veteran, however, admitted in mid-January that retirement is now an annual consideration.
This makes Bailey a wise choice since he has talent but needs time to mature and refine his game.
The most defining characteristic of the former Razorback is that he has a nice combination of size and quickness. The 21-year-old stands at 6’3” and weighs 312 pounds but still managed to run the 40 in 4.95 seconds at the combine. This was good for fourth best among offensive lineman.
Like Aboushi, he does struggle with footwork at times. This is especially true out in space, when he is pulling or blocking for outside rushing attempts.
Bailey should have at least a year to develop as long as Snee remains effective and free agent left guard Kevin Boothe is either resigned or an adequate replacement is brought in if he departs. Otherwise, Bailey may be pressed into action before he is ready.
The cornerback situation looks set, if not impressive, going into 2013 for Big Blue. Prince Amukamara, Corey Webster and Jayron Hosley will all return with former Giant Aaron Ross coming back to his old stomping grounds after a year in Jacksonville. Oft-injured Terrell Thomas also figures to be in the mix if he can stay healthy.
This short-term stability allows the Giants to wait on drafting a cornerback until the middle rounds.
McGee is a solid selection since he has the talent to someday start in the NFL.
He was highly-touted coming out of high school but never found consistency at Miami. His post-college time has done wonders though to improve his draft stock.
In January, he had a strong week of practice leading up to the East-West Shrine game (he didn’t actually participate in the game for undisclosed reasons).
Then he performed great at the combine in late February. The highlights included a time of 6.71 seconds in the three-cone drill, good for fourth best among defensive backs and a 4.40 forty time, which placed him sixth.
Finally he represented himself well at the Miami Pro Day on March 7. All of these positive developments has moved McGee solidly into the fifth round after being considered a sixth or seventh round pick at the beginning of 2013.
Hopefully for the Giants sake his stock doesn’t continue to rise in the coming weeks. He is still a value in the fifth round but he becomes a risk if he moves up any further.
The safety position is quickly becoming a concern for Big Blue.
Starting strong safety Kenny Phillips is gone, having signed with the rival Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. Restricted free agent Stevie Brown, Phillips replacement, is likely with the team in 2013 but if he is, that means he’ll be back on the market as an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
The other starting safety Antrel Rolle is signed through 2014 but he appears to be an early cap casualty candidate after the 2013 season due to the $9.25 million cap hit he’ll carry.
That leaves Mundy, the newest member to this group, Will Hill and Tyler Sash as the only safeties with any realistic chance of being with the team for the next few seasons.
Therefore, selecting a safety with one of their seven picks is a must for the Giants.
Wolff was a stellar player in N.C. State’s secondary during his college career. He had a particularly strong senior season, racking up an insane 136 tackles, which was a big reason why he earned first-team All-ACC honors.
He projects to be strong against the run in the NFL and his fundamentals suggest he’ll be adequate in pass coverage, despite subpar lateral agility.
Like McGee, 2013 has treated Wolff well.
He also had a good week of practice at the Shrine game and was a stand-out at the combine. He was especially impressive in the broad jump, topping all safeties with a mark of 134 inches, and the 40, where he placed second with a time of 4.44 seconds.
McGee looks like a starting-caliber player, given his talent and performance in college, which is a pretty good find this deep in the draft.
Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph make for a nice starting tandem at the defensive tackle position for Big Blue. The depth behind their front line guys though is shaky at best. Unproven players such as Marvin Austin and Markus Kuhn, along with aging veteran Shaun Rogers, do not instill much confidence.
Grissom appears to have a future at the next level. He had a solid senior season at USF with seven tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. His performance was good enough to qualify him for second-team All-Big East.
Grissom was also durable during his college career, starting in every game from his sophomore year on.
He has a good motor, a quick first step and moves well laterally. He is still a bit raw but should have time to develop behind Joseph and Jenkins.
His poor combine results are also a cause for concern, as he placed near the bottom in each of the six workouts he participated in.
His on-field performance should still be enough to get him drafted and the Giants would be wise to snatch him up if is available in the middle of the seventh round.